RobertW. Lent and Stephen D. Brown developed the Social Cognitive CareerTheory (SCCT) in the year 1994. The hypothesis originated from thegeneral social cognitive premise created by Bandura in 1986. Thegeneral cognitive theory stipulated that an individual’spsychosocial behavior is influenced by the intersection of extrinsicand intrinsic factors (Social Cognitive Career Theory, n.d). Thesupposition is a relatively new ideology, and it expands the scope ofthe general cognitive theory to explain the development of anindividual’s career. Besides, it also incorporates the work of(Hackett & Betz, 1981), which first identified the importance ofself-efficacy in career growth. The theory merges common hypotheticalaspects from other philosophers. First it combines the person –environment correspondence theory developed by (Dawis & Lofquist,1984), the personality typology theory by (Holland, 1985), sociallearning theory by (Krumboltz, 1976), lifespan, life space by (super,1990) and the developmental theory by (Vondracek et.al, 1986) (SocialCognitive Career Theory, n.d).
Consequently,a more comprehensive system that is capable of clarifying a careerdevelopment process was created. The approach explains howindividuals’ career interests are developed. Second, it illustratesthe way folks make their educational and career choices. Third, itdemonstrates the way people achieve career success (Brown, &Lent, 1996).
Thetheory addresses three types of career-related behaviors. First is aperson`s interest in academic and career development. Second is theimpact of an individual’s passion in his or her career choices.Finally, is a person’s persistence to attain his or her careerendeavors. Within the model, the SCCT further posits that there arethree personal attributes to the behaviors of individuals (Kelly,2009).
Firstis self-efficacy. It is the level of a person’s belief that theyhave obtained mastery of a particular skill. According to the SCCT,children receive various reinforcements from distinct activitiesbased on their performance. The support influences the beliefs andbehaviors children have regarding their ability to perform varioustasks. Self-efficacy guides people’s judgment and theircapabilities to organize and execute the desired courses of actionsnecessary to attain the designated performances. The interestdevelopment model of the SCCT links self –efficacy and individuals’outcome expectations to the development of career interest. Thetheory posits that childhood exposures to various jobs, whether firstor second-hand, serves as sources of ideas about possible outcomesassociated with such career options (Brown, & Lent, 1996).
Besides,the theory hypothesizes that individual self-efficacy beliefsoriginate from four primary sources of information. They includepersonal accomplishments, second-hand experiences (that emanate froma person’s observation of others), social persuasion, individual’sphysiological, and emotional states. Personal accomplishments includeone’s failures and successes. They are believed to offerinformation on motivational efficacy. However, several factors affectindividuals’ self-efficiency. First is the nature of their sharedenvironment and reinforcing information that they can access. Secondis the type of physiological states experienced by individuals whilethey are engaged in specific tasks such as low levels of anxiety(Brooks, 2014).
Consequently,the theory contends that self-efficacy develops through masteryexperiences, social modeling, improving emotional and physicalstates, as well as verbal persuasion. Knowledge and experiencerequire individuals to achieve easy tasks before they are exposed tocomplex chores. Through social modeling, individuals encounterprocesses needed to accomplish a given duty as well as the desiredbehaviors. Improving the physical and emotional conditions requiresone to relax before him or her attempts a new behavior. The moreunperturbed a person is, the higher the probability of attaining arequired action. Verbal persuasion serves as a route to provideencouragement for folks to complete a certain assignment oraccomplish a particular behavior (Kelly, 2009).
Secondis the outcome expectation. These are individual beliefs aboutpotential consequences or results of acting in a set way. Forexample, if a person asks, “What will happen if I do this?” Thetheory claims that humans learn a behavior after understanding theprospective outcome of repeating it. Although the individual does notexpect the rewards and punishments related to a distinct course ofaction, they anticipate similar outcome by redoing the action.Through cognition, therefore, the environment within which a persongrows up influences his or her learning (Brooks, 2014).
Theoutcome of an action determines the individuals’ choice of theactivities to engage. Besides, it influences the people’s effortsand their persistence while executing their operations. For example,people are more likely to execute a particular activity to the levelthat they perceive their involvement is capable of achieving apositive end. Perceived social outcomes include social andself-approval, attractive work conditions and tangible rewards.According to the SCCT, the expected consequence from a given doingdetermines the level of engagement and perseverance they put into theduty. Besides, the individuals’ ultimate success in a particularobjective relies upon self-efficacy and closing expectations (Brown,Lent, & Gore, 2000).
Thepersonal beliefs, when combined with one’s outcome anticipation,directly influence the development of interests. Concurrently,self-efficacy beliefs influence the person’s ultimate hope. Forexample as an adolescent, a person may possess the knowledge thatpilots earn high salaries – an expected result. However, the personmay doubt their likelihood of becoming a pilot due to their inabilityto perform excellently in physics and mathematics – self-efficacybeliefs (Kelly, 2009).
Thirdis an individual’s personal ambition. Personal objectives are one’sintentions to specialize in a particular activity. For example,someone may want to pursue a given academic course. Besides, peoplemay aim to attain some degree of performance such as achieving adistinction in a given subject. According to the SCCT principles,such desires entail choice and performance goals respectively. Thesetting of targets is an essential aspect of an individual since ithelps in organizing behavior. Besides, the targets serve as a guideto actions and sustain when there is no immediate feedback. Goalsalso help individuals to fight and face the setbacks they encounteralong the way. The theory postulates that objectives andindividuals’ outcome expectations depend on self-efficacy.Specifically, people set goals in line with their views about theircapabilities to accomplish them. Besides, they set marks based on theoutcomes they look ahead to from pursuing a specific course ofaction. The success or failure to attain the personal goals providesvaluable information to the individuals on the need to alter thecourse of action or confirm self-efficacy beliefs and outcomeexpectations (Brown, Lent, & Gore, 2000).
Consequently,the theory provides that career development is a continuous cycle ofgathering information, conducting data analysis to derive sense andthe choice of decisions throughout the life of an individual. Besides, its foundational premise – the SCCT relies on the frameworkof constructivism, which provides that humans are active shapers oftheir experience (Kelly, 2009).
Thesocial cognitive theory asserts that of the three personalattributes, self-efficacy, and outcome expectations are of greatestsignificance. The two characteristics are determined by the first andsecond-hand past performance. An individual’s self-efficacy isleast informed by social persuasion, physiological states, andreactions (Kelly, 2009).
Thetheory proposes that a person’s career depends on his or herdeveloped beliefs. The opinions develop from the individual’spersonal performance, accomplishments, second-hand learning, socialpersuasion, and physiological reactions. The subject developsexpertise and ability to make the aspects work successfully withinthe career development process. The successful application andattainment of goals through the elements reinforce one’sself-efficacy skills. In view of that, the individual continues tobelieve in the future success through the utilization of theirexpertise. Besides, humans have high chances of creating aspirationsthat involve the continuous use of their abilities (Brooks, 2014).
Anevolutionary process occurs from childhood to adulthood. The personcontinues to narrow down the number of successful activities andsettles on a particular career choice or goal. The key determinant ofsuccess in the preferred job is the extent to which one examines theactivity as their most appropriate choice and the one that offers thebest remuneration. Factors about the context of the success processplay a significant role in influencing the individual’s perceptionof success. Whenever a candidate views fewer barriers to success, heor she is more likely to do well in his or her career choice.However, if the aspirant views the barriers as significant, he or shedevelops a weaker interest and determination of the course of action(Brown, Lent, & Gore, 2000).
AsI sit down and visualize my career selection process, I realize thatI have subconsciously applied the social cognitive theory of careerdevelopment. I am a final year medic student, and I have had a longway of visualizing my life ambitions. At the adolescent stage, Iadmired myriads of careers based on the outward expressions held bypeople in the jobs. At first, my background settings lacked theinformation I needed to make an appropriate career decision. However,the environment gradually transformed my thinking as I achievedself-efficacy skills that were fully informed by the expectedoutcomes. Besides, I found that I set personal choice and performancegoals. The objectives served as my guide and assisted me insustaining my behavior during hard times. I honestly acknowledge thecontribution of the SCCT to furthering my understanding of how I cameto be.
Initially,I had no desire to be a medic. In fact, I aspired to be a truckdriver. At my rural home, I frequently observed the big lorries asthey came to deliver supplies to the affluent neighborhoods.Specifically, I admired their strength as they climbed the hillsemitting a cloud of smoke. I liked observing the tippers as theyoffload the humongous weight of construction materials such asballast and sand. Consequently, I looked forward to driving such avehicle in the future. The most unusual and exciting thing was thesmall body size of the truck drivers. I often wondered how theymanaged to control such big automobiles.
Myfamily was financially poor as the Mexican economic crisis renderedmy father jobless. On the other hand, my mother’s peasant farmingcould hardly put adequate food on our table. She would sell part ofher farm produce to feed and clothe us. After I had attained eighteenyears, I took a part-time job at a cafeteria located at a busy gasstation so that I could supplement my family’s income. I sold hotdogs and popcorns to drivers. For a whole year, I earned a meagerstipend. I hardly saved enough to attend a driving school therefore,I was worried about when I would ever manage to achieve my dreamoccupation. My family sustenance was demanding too much. Ifantasized of a day when I would make adequate income to salvage bothmy loved and the community from poverty. Furthermore, I fantasizedabout crossing the Mexico – U.S border so that I could work in thetomato fields at Fresno, just like my uncles who had successfullymade the passage to El Norte. Just like many people do, I fanciedmaking a lot of wealth in the foreign land and then returning to mycountry to live happily ever after.
Oneday, as I had an impromptu discussion with an old man, he describedthe difference between working hard and working smart. He said thattruck drivers worked very hard and earned meager wages. Some arerequired to drive many hours to deliver the supplies. The frail manwished he could rewind the clock, go back to school, and studymedicine. However, it was too late, and he knew his wishful desirewas futile. He said that doctors earned a liberal amount of money.Besides, the profession is a dignified occupation in Mexico. Hepointed at one of the mansions on sight, and then he muttered, “Yousee that mansion over there it belongs to a medical doctor who worksat the NationalMemorial Hospital.”Curiously, I asked him, “What does it require to become a doctor?”He replied that I had to score high to obtain a scholarship sincemedical courses are expensive. By then, only children from wealthyfamilies could afford to pay the tuition fees in medical schools. Thestatement by the old man reinforced my instincts and served as myturning point.
Rightthere, I changed my inspiration of being a truck driver to becoming atherapist. The man created the image of the expected outcome afterpursuing the medical degree. Besides, I believed that I had thecapability to achieve it if I remained dedicated to my studies. Throughout my life, I had attended public schools, and my performancewas average. I was approaching the final high school exam in a fewmonths. I knew I required scoring substantially high marks to managean entry into a public medical college or university. I rememberalways setting goals to achieve. I became overly anxious to theextent that I questioned my decision-making most of the times. Ilooked forward to succeeding in the final exams so much that I alwayswondered whether most of the decision choices I made werecontributing to the ultimate coveted result.
Istrategized that I needed to substitute most of the time I spent atthe gas station to self-studies. After a deep analysis of thecustomer trends, I realized that there was a high customer flowbetween 5.50 pm and 10 pm. because most people passed by the gasstation on their way home. A majority of the motorists refrain fromfueling in the morning due to the rush to reach their workplaces andthe need to avoid traffic congestion. Furthermore, I realized that Ispent several hours during the day engaging in unfruitful discussionsto pass the time while waiting for the slow-moving clients.
Idecided to focus on the peak time and devote the rest of the time toschool work. First, I needed to recover the time I had lost bymissing my classes. Therefore, I set a goal to cover the entiresyllabus from the tenth to twelfth grade within the final semester. Ialso declared never to miss a single class. I knew at the back ofmind that I had little time to study. Consequently, I maximized thetime with the educators by asking for guidance and clarification ofconcepts I failed to grasp in class.
Iworked after classes from 5.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. Afterwards, I wouldgo home, shower and work on my assignments. Although it took mytwelfth-grade year to cover the entire syllabus, I was persistent. Istrived for success even when I was feeling sick. During mysecond-last semester, I managed to lead the class for the first time.I was filled with jubilation during the price-giving day. As aresult, I declared to do whatever it takes to remain in the top classeven at the final exams.
Justlike in the SCCT principles, my environment was beginning tocondition my behavior. The instructors became my best friends as Iwon accolades during the interschool competitions. They were alwaysavailable to assist me with the challenges I was experiencing. Someof the teachers sympathized with me to the extent of purchasing areplacement for my tattered school uniform. Finally, the head teachernoticed that I was walking a long distance to school. He proposedthat I become a boarding student. I turned declined the offer andtold him that I had family and job obligations to meet. Deep in mymind, I felt it was an excellent opportunity to focus more oneducation, but attending to my family was not a threat enough toaffect my concentration and performance. After witnessing thesuccess of my efforts, I learned the behavior of working hard. Everytime I would complete a test, I believed I was the best. Soon, thestrategy became a habit, and I shined more in my final year. Theimmediate success reinforced my motivation to study relentlesslydespite the exhaustion.
Ipassed excellently and secured a scholarship. The sponsorship furtheraffirmed my belief that I would achieve my eventual dream. I narrowedmy career options by specializing in subjects and disciplinesnecessary for a medic. Even though I did well in other subjects, Iperformed exceptionally well in the sciences. I became a favoritestudent to my teachers, and at times, I would engage in stimulatingtalks with them. I would decline any offer to assume leadershippositions at school with the argument that such duties would take upthe time I required for extending my research.
Thesocial cognitive career development theory states that when personalbeliefs combine with the expected outcome, they directly influencethe development of interest. Besides, the self-efficacy convictionsinfluence the outcome expectations. The faith that my acquiredprinciple of working hard to maintain a high GPA would lead tosuccess astounded my fears. While at the high school, I worried thatmy family was dying of poverty, however, it did not hinder myachievement motivation.
Isat for exams, and the results were remarkable I passed in Math,Chemistry, Biology and Physics. During my visit to collect my schoolcertificates, the high number of college admission letters enthralledme. The best schools in business, medics, and aviation all lined upawaiting my acceptance. I selected to join a faculty of medicinedespite the knowledge that I could not afford the associated fees.Nevertheless, I networked with my former teachers and informed themthat I could not afford the tuition fees in a medical school. To mysurprise, they secured government sponsorship within a month afterthe discussion.
Now,I am a final medical student and an intern at the pediatricdepartment in one of the greatest national hospitals in Mexico. Ionce dreamt of being a truck driver. I also dreamt of sneaking intothe U.S and work in the cotton fields. However, I experienced atransformation after a discussion with an old man who changed myperception of life. First, the man created the image of what it lookslike to become a doctor by showing me the mansion of a physician atour rural home. Through social modeling, he created a demoralizingimage about the career of a truck driver. Specifically, I figured outthat the job of a truck driver could not compensate me abundantly tosolve my current need to salvage my family from poverty.Consequently, the old man informed my decision to be a doctor sinceit is in line with my life purpose.
Accordingto the social cognitive theory, an individual’s view of thebarriers within the process of career development determines thesuccess in their mission. In my case, I have been in the medicalschool for seven years. The accreditation from the faculty ofmedicine is worth the time I have taken so far. The difficultsituations I have faced, up to now, are not worthy barriers. Instead,they stimulate my urge for knowledge and further success.I am alsoquite sure that the time investment and the effort shall pay off assoon as I become a practicing doctor.
Secondly,the social cognitive career development theory provides that humansgo through an evolution process from childhood to adulthood. Peoplecontinue to narrow down the number of successful activities andsettle on specific career goals. Besides, it posits that occupationdevelopment is a continuous cycle of gathering information,conducting data analysis to derive the sense, and making a professiondecision. Similarly, I have undergone an evolutionary process fromchildhood to adolescence. The older I become, the lesser the careerchoices I can select. As a medic, I am aspiring to further mytraining as a neurosurgeon. I have acquired vast information aboutthe field, and I have discovered that there are only five accreditedpracticing neurosurgeons in Mexico. The professionals overwork due tothe increasing demand for brain surgery. Besides, the career has avariety of exciting fields and mysteries that remain unsolved. Ispeculate that neurosurgery provides enough challenge for myintellect. Besides the willingness to give back to my community, thespecialty will offer satisfactory compensation for my efforts.
Brooks,D. (2014).Underrepresented minorities and social cognitive careertheory: an investigation of the effectiveness of increasing math andscience interest and self-efficacy in the context of a healthcarecareer intervention with rural Latino and White-identified middleschool students. PhD(Doctor of Philosophy) thesis.University of Iowa, 2014. Retrieved on 05 June, 2016 from http://ir.iowa.edu/etd/4583
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Mary,K. (2009). Social cognitive career theory as applied to the school-to-work transition. SetonHall University Dissertations and Theses, 3(1),145-211.
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